Thinking of Callisto
Oil on Fabriano Tela
15 x 20 cm
"John Berger’s Ways of Seeing is a particularly pertinent touchstone for me, not only for his salient theses but for his insouciant lisp (I too have difficulty with sibilant “s”). In considering these works I’ve been thinking of his work on different versions of Susanna and the Elders and the tensions in compositions which realise it is a story of a woman, looking at herself being watched by men: and how that proliferates in western portraiture.
Princess Diana, especially in her earlier pictures, is characterised by shyly looking away. Her passive glance conflated with classical understandings of beauty (not to mention her final immortalisation as a mythological figure in her brother’s eulogy). In these words I consider, confuse, and complicate elements of media, genre, history, biography, and my own cursory understanding of Hesiod to discuss Diana’s role as a simulacrum of these disparate ideas.
In the handling of the paint I think of Diana as an apparition, a lost member of a Greek chorus: unmoored from her tragedy and as such the promise of catharsis. These small figurative works make the viewer mimic the detachment of the subject, drawing them in to inspect the composition. As myth is designed to reinforce principles and characteristics of a society, the titles draw on elements of myth and elements of the society Diana operated in to emphasise her role as a figurehead through omission of that discussion.
Unlike beloved John Berger these works have no clear rhetorical but rather invite the viewer to, as I have, delight in having a lack of coherent narrative."